FEBT volunteers continue to move forward on our restoration of East Broad Top Railroad combination baggage-passenger car no. 14. Since work on the combine occurs in our restoration facility inside the Rockhill Furnace paint shop, progress on this historic car may not be obvious to casual visitors to the EBT. Nevertheless, work on the combine advanced in 2009, and substantial progress is planned in 2010.
This year the focus of work was repair and realignment of the wood framework of the passenger car body. The frame of the combine, exposed after FEBT volunteers removed the car's exterior and interior walls windows, floor, and trucks, exhibited a number of significant structural problems. Past repairs to the side sills, imperfect adjustment of the car's metal tension and truss rods, and uneven weak and tear from operation had produced a noticeable twist in the car's frame. Measurements of the car body's length differed, depending on whether the length was measured at the top or bottom of the car side—and which side was measured. Both end platforms had suffered damage and deterioration. Portions of the wood car and truck bolsters had nearly disintegrated.
During the past year our Rockhill Furnace volunteers repaired the end platforms and installed new end beams, repaired the wood side sills, and realigned the combine's framework. Weight is being applied to remove a small dip at one end of the underframe. New oak bolster components have been fabricated. Preparations are now under way for installation of hidden reinforcement for the car sides and roof; sheathing for the combine's roof, floor, and sides will follow.
Among the materials scheduled for purchase this winter is rattan to recover combine no. 14's seats. Woven from strips of Asian palm and generally glued to a canvas lining, rattan was often applied to seats in late–nineteenth and early twentieth century streetcars and railroad passenger cars. Railroads appreciated rattan's durability, although historian John H. White observes that rattan seats were not popular with passengers. Both of the former Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad passenger cars which in 1916 became EBT combines nos. 14 and 15 had rattan seats. Through our membership in the Association of Railway Museums, FEBT vice president R. Lee Rainey has identified what is reputed to be the only remaining source for new rattan. We plan to buy sufficient rattan for future restoration of EBT combines nos. 15, 16, and 18, in addition to that now needed for the seats of combine no. 14.
In addition to the rattan, in 2010 we also plan to purchase materials needed to repair the underframe and roof framework; to sheathe the roof, exterior and interior sides; and to repair door posts and sills. The total estimated cost of materials needed next year for this project is almost $8,000.
Damage to the roof of the concrete coal bunker, which the East Broad Top Railroad constructed at the south end of its Rockhill Furnace yard to service its steam locomotives, has in recent years caused additional deterioration. Repairs to the coal bunker started in 2009, when FEBT volunteers fabricated and installed replacement wood doors. Work on the roof is planned for 2010.
This summer we completed work on our reproduction passenger trucks. The Strasburg Rail Road performed machine—work and assembled our two wood—frame trucks, which are reproductions of original trucks from former East Broad Top Railroad coach no. 5. The new trucks are intended for our restoration of EBT combine no. 16, now stored at the New Jersey Museum of Transportation. In October FEBT returned the leased original trucks from coach no. 5 to the Tweetsie Railroad, the coach's present owner.
This year FEBT volunteers significantly advanced our work on the interior of the old Robertsdale post office, which is part of the FEBT Museum complex. We completed work on all tongue–and–groove wood ceiling, installed alarm system boxes and wiring, inserted additional insulation, finished major work on interior walls, and started work on the interior trim. Our general contractor concluded his work with the installation of all plumbing and cabinets. Work this winter will focus on installing the metal ceiling in the two main ground–floor rooms.
This year expenditures for our restoration program will total approximately $65,000. Our 2010 projected restoration budget is approximately $55,000, which includes present commitments and allocations to current projects carried forward from 2009. This budget will be adjusted up or down to reflect the actual funds available. Donations from individuals provide the primary financial support for our restoration program. Please help us by sending your tax–deductible donation to this address:
FEBT Restoration Fund Treasurer
513 Shady Avenue, No. 12
Pittsburgh PA 15206-4447
All donors will receive written acknowledgements for contributions to our restoration fund.